Barn has collapsed into the river

9 Jun 2009
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United Kingdom
I am restoring an old watermill in France. A barn that I use as a garage has collapsed into the river. This is mainly due to old age and a storm. The riverbank gave way and took one wall with it, i have dismantled most of the rest of the barn for safety. Unfortunately, insurance doesn't cover "act of god" or "old age" and it's one of the two!

I am pretty handy with all aspects of DIY and have built a house in UK. My questions is, how do I dig new foundations (there weren't any before as the barn was a couple of 100 years old) on the river bank. Do I need to shore up the riverbank - if so how? Do I need to drive some sort of pilings into the foundation - if so how and what type? I can make the barn smaller and move it a little in from the riverbank but probably still need to do something special with the foundations? I really need to do thsi at low cost/myself.
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If you want it on the original footprint and close to the bank, then you need to form a quay heading to stop the bank being eroded in the future. The barn can then either sit on a raft or on piles behind the quay heading.

Alternatively, backfill the area of erosion, then pile the barn foundations and cast a combined ground beam and slab foundation. Future erosion of the bank will be less likely to affect the building stability.

Neither are really DIY territory. Second option is cheaper.
Get some gabion baskets in to help prevent future erosion of the bank also. I assume it's on the apex of a bend in the river which is why it's being eroded. Another option is to plant willow into the bank to hold it together - very cheap but has to be done right to work, and of course doesn't provide an instant fix.
Thanks so much for all the suggestions. Am out there again beginning of July so will take stock and decide what to do.
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Before digging by the river, you should really speak to the environment agency to ensure that you aren't breaking any laws. Also the local planning department may have a say.

Just because there was something there before doesn't automatically give you the right to put something back. Sorry... Lots of hoops to jump through!

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